I moved to abroad in August and in preparation, I read a lot of articles and blog posts that I thought would help prepare me for my move. It is a huge transition and I wanted to be well informed. But some of the things I have experienced over these last few months were not included in those posts and I feel like I should share them. If only to properly inform others who are considering the same path.
1. You will not learn that language as quickly as you thought. Possibly never. You will, however, rely on Google translate more than you ever thought was possible and freak out when the data on your phone runs out just as you are asking a grocer if that package of meat you are holding is beef or pork. You will smile and nod pretending to know what the nice old lady that lives next door is saying, but will awkwardly end up asking her for more water (which is the only phrase you are confident with at this point) when you meant to say “sayonara” and then she’ll be polite and pretend you actually said what you thought you were saying. But you will still use that well-known phrase every chance you get. You will be one hydrated mofo.
2. You will think your new country sucks when you realize there is a butter shortage. Actually, you won’t even realize just how much you love butter until you find out there is a shortage. And this will rock your entire world. You’ll think about all the ways butter saves lives (not really) and ends world unhappiness (possibly true, tho). This goes for every other food you really like that you thought was available in each and every country of the world until you move away from your home country. You never thought you would utter the phrase “I could really go for some brussel sprouts” until you can’t find them. My theory is the Universe is conspiring against me and Karma has input because of something I did when you were 13 years old that I have yet to resolve. And Mercury in retrograde. Retrograde always fucking my life up.
3. You will poop more. And less. (Yea, I said it!) For some reason, the food will have either effect on you and both will happen during your first few months of moving. And you will notice and it will become the topic of discussion for a couple days, if not weeks.
4. You will walk and ride a bicycle more but won’t become more in shape. I have no idea how this is possible, but you will remain just as fat and unhealthy as you were when you were driving everywhere and parking as close to the entrance as possible. Including double parking in the fire zone when it’s raining. You will walk the steps to your apartment and wonder how, after three months of walking up the same steps, is it that you are still just as out of breath as you were when you first moved in. It never changes and you stop wishing that it would and enjoy the hell out of that donut.
5. You will never get the time difference down. Especially when daylight saving happens back home. You just have to make sure you have the world clock on your phone or one of your clocks set to the time back home. You will never stop asking, “What time is it there?” Ever.
6. The littlest things will bring you the greatest joy. You will get super excited and almost to the point of high-five when you reach the register when you realize that your favorite snack/beauty product/underwear can be found in your new country. The sight of Krispy Kreme will make your heart skip a beat. Dove body wash will make you sing outside the shower. You will do a happy dance when you find Haribo Gummi bears at the grocery store. And on that day, you won’t even care about the butter shortage.
7. Relationships will change. You will have friends and family more supportive than they ever have been and become the mother/sister/friend you need right when you need them. Your friendship antennae will become more focused because of the distance and you will have more meaningful conversations with them. But, there will be relationships that will succumb to the pressure of the adjustment and won’t survive. As a result, you will appreciate those connections you make, both in your new country and your home country, even more.
8. You will eventually realize that you are more resilient than you ever thought possible. Things will become not-so-overwhelming. You will have less frequent meltdowns over the lack of Chipotle and Trader Joes. You will eventually navigate your way through the rail systems and find new adventures. You will love being a tourist in your new city and learn just enough phrases that will politely get you through a crowd or ask for the bill when you are out for dinner. Your sense of accomplishment will begin to shift and it will surprise you just how proud you are at how far you’ve come.